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Canon SX520 vs Nikon B500

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Nikon Coolpix B500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2014 and January 2016. Both the SX520 and the B500 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX520
versus
Nikon B500
Canon SX520   Nikon B500
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-1008mm f/3.4-6 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5
15.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 15.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 80-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD – 461k dots 3.0" LCD – 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
1.6 shutter flaps per second 7.4 shutter flaps per second
210 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 441 g 114 x 78 x 95 mm, 541 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Nikon Coolpix B500? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Canon SX520 and the Nikon B500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the SX520 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX520 vs Nikon B500
Compare SX520 versus B500 top
Comparison SX520 or B500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon B500 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Canon SX520. However, the B500 is markedly heavier (23 percent) than the SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the B500 are weather-sealed.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon B500 114 mm 78 mm 95 mm 541 g 600 n Jan 2016 299ebay.com
3.
 
Canon SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399ebay.com
4.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429ebay.com
5.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349ebay.com
7.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549ebay.com
8.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449ebay.com
9.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 amazon.com
11.
 
Nikon P900 140 mm 103 mm 137 mm 899 g 360 n Mar 2015 599ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic FZ80 130 mm 94 mm 119 mm 616 g 330 n Jan 2017 399 amazon.com
14.
 
Sony HX80 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 390 n Mar 2016 349ebay.com
15.
 
Sony HX90V 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 360 n Apr 2015 429ebay.com
16.
 
Sony H200 123 mm 83 mm 87 mm 530 g 240 n Jan 2013 249ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The B500 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the SX520, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/2.3-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon SX520 and Nikon B500 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the SX520 and the B500 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the B500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the SX520, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Coolpix B500 are ISO 80 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

SX520 versus B500 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.111.567246
2.
 
Nikon B500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i20.311.781048
3.
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.780648
4.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.211.671247
5.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.211.671247
6.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p20.111.462945
7.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
8.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
9.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p20.011.358645
10.
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.712.2109552
11.
 
Nikon P900 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p20.211.672747
12.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i20.211.672147
13.
 
Panasonic FZ80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36724K/30p20.511.990049
14.
 
Sony HX80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p20.411.882248
15.
 
Sony HX90V 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p20.211.673847
16.
 
Sony H200 1/2.3 15.2 5184 2930720/30p19.911.252944
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the B500 provides a faster frame rate than the SX520. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX520 and the B500 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX520 and Nikon B500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX520none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
2.
 
Nikon B500none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX540none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX530none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX700none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon T5optical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
9.
 
Canon SX510none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8/s Y Y
10.
 
Nikon B600none n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
11.
 
Nikon P900921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0/s Y Y
12.
 
Nikon L840none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
13.
 
Panasonic FZ801166 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Sony HX80638 n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Sony HX90V638 n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
16.
 
Sony H200none n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

Both the SX520 and the B500 have zoom lenses built in. The SX520 has a 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 optic and the B500 offers a 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Nikon provides a wider angle of view at the short end than the Canon, but less tele-photo reach at the long end. The B500 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX520 and the B500 write their files to SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and Nikon Coolpix B500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX520-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon B500-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
3.
 
Canon SX540-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX530-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX700-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon T5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX510-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
10.
 
Nikon B600-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
11.
 
Nikon P900-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Nikon L840-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Panasonic FZ80Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
14.
 
Sony HX80-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
15.
 
Sony HX90V-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Sony H200-mono / mono---2.0---

It is notable that the B500 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the SX520 does not provide wifi capability.

Both the SX520 and the B500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The SX520 was replaced by the Canon SX530, while the B500 was followed by the Nikon B600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX520 and the Nikon B500? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:

  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 100g or 18 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon Coolpix B500:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 461k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 1.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/3.0 vs f/3.4).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the B500 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX520 03:13 B500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX520 and the Nikon B500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX520 or the B500 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX520..+....3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon B500..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2016 299ebay.com
3.
 
Canon SX540............ Jan 2016 399ebay.com
4.
 
Canon SX530..+ +....4/54/5 Jan 2015 429ebay.com
5.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX700..+ +....4/54/5 Feb 2014 349ebay.com
7.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549ebay.com
8.
 
Canon T53/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449ebay.com
9.
 
Canon SX510..+ +....4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon B600..+....3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 349 amazon.com
11.
 
Nikon P900......77/1004/54/5 Mar 2015 599ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon L840..+ +....3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic FZ80..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 399 amazon.com
14.
 
Sony HX80............ Mar 2016 349ebay.com
15.
 
Sony HX90V4/5+ +....4/54.5/5 Apr 2015 429ebay.com
16.
 
Sony H200........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2013 249ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Nikon B500

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon SX520 Nikon B500
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5
    Launch Date July 2014 January 2016
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 299
    Sensor Specs Canon SX520 Nikon B500
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 80 - 6,400 ISO
    Screen Specs Canon SX520 Nikon B500
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX520 Nikon B500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.6 shutter flaps/s 7.4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX520 Nikon B500
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Canon SX520 Nikon B500
    Battery Type NB-6LH 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)210 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    114 x 78 x 95 mm
    (4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
    Camera Weight 441 g (15.6 oz) 541 g (19.1 oz)
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    Check SX520 offers at
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    Check B500 offers at
    ebay.com

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